UPDATE: Visual Voicemail App Removed from Android Market on T-Mobile Complaint
By Jared Newman
YouMail, an app that provides visual voicemail services for smartphones, has been removed from the Android Market, apparently at T-Mobile’s request.
“It has come to our attention that this application could be used in a way that is harmful to devices, networks, or users,” YouMail was told in a message from Android Market support. “Specifically, we have received a complaint from T-Mobile that this application is causing adverse network disruption.”
UPDATE (12/9):Looks like YouMail deserves most of the blame here. A bad software update caused some users to poll YouMail’s servers continuously, putting a huge strain on T-Mobile’s network. There was a communication snafu as well: YouMail says it missed a notification from T-Mobile because it was sent to the company’s general customer service inbox, and says Google removed the app without notifying YouMail first. In any case, the app is back online. YouMail’s blog has more details.
In a blog post, YouMail questions the motivations of T-Mobile, noting that other wireless carriers haven’t complained. In fact, regional carrier Viaero has partnered with YouMail to handle visual voicemail on its Android phones, and YouMail is the default voicemail service for Blue Wireless in upstate New York.
T-Mobile offers its own visual voicemail service, and sells voice-to-text transcription on top of that service, a point not lost on YouMail.
“We hate to think this is simply anti-competitive behavior on T-Mobile’s part–simply because we’ve produced an innovative and dramatically better voicemail product than they offer, and that’s free on top of it,” the company wrote in its blog post.
T-Mobile did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This isn’t the first time Google has taken action against apps in the Android Market on the request of wireless carriers. In May, Google blocked Android tethering apps so they couldn’t be downloaded from phones on AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile, in response to carrier complaints. In this case, however, Google didn’t just block YouMail from T-Mobile phones, it removed the app entirely.
This doesn’t look good for Google or T-Mobile, so hopefully they’ll come up with an explanation. In the meantime, YouMail should consider submitting its app to the Amazon Appstore, or allowing users to sideload it.